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Renato Barilli:

And here we have the recipe for understanding the entire universe of our artist, who was always ready to wave a magic wand and overturn things. In this way the functional grids used by architects and designers were turned into fantastic labyrinths and enchanted paths where he found it marvellous to get lost, throwing away the key so that there was no obligation to come out. In any case, he fully possessed the advantage of broadening them, of breaking down their walls and continually opening new passageways, like an industrious insect that is never still but continues patiently and tenaciously with its digging.

But in this regard let us consider a further update. I think Mazzotti would have been very happy to join us in our day, where the computer and the video have made it possible for graphic images to move in time. After all, in his dream, or the congenital need to dig tunnels, galleries, escape routes and emergency exits, the artist was forced to create a huge number of variants, but still and static ones, motionless on the canvas, which, let me say, is also where their virtue and beauty and undeniable quality lie. But had he been familiar within the new technologies, he could have used his incessant production of variants to change the forms, constellations and arrangements that video makes possible today; in other words, the fabula de lineis et figures could have become iridescent before our eyes, as we, the fascinated spectators, sat in armchairs to admire a brilliant show ready to parade before our eyes.
Of course, together with the iridescent flow of lines and shapes, we should also immediately recall the wide variation in colour. A prisoner of the standard painting technique, Mazzotti had to start all over again each time, choosing tones that would give us one of his numberless mazes or series of compartments, deciding whether to keep to a range of warm, solar colours, or instead, cold, nocturnal shades. However, I should point out that after his early endeavours with naturalist subjects, he completely moved away from nature, especially the organic. The world of the artificial and the inorganic was his kingdom, one where he was ready to benefit from all the related resources, such as the colours of the spectrograph when the inner structure of metals is investigated. Or again, for instance, bearing in mind the comparison offered by the universe of electronic media – the winding, multicoloured tracks used to represent integrated circuits.


Francesco Arcangeli:

‘Anyone with an eye for painting – and no matter what the ideologues of criticism say, painting needs this kind of eye – can be more than satisfied with the many excellent results achieved by this frank and very serious artist, for whom the rule and modulation of form never seek separation – and are never separate from the clear and brilliantly calculated clarity of colour.
Something in Mazzotti’s painting shines and beckons; something that from the very bosom of pictorial research is clearly intent on regenerating the desire for, and an encounter with, a new and more synthetic reality. The ghost of the figure comes back to haunt the artist, and his figures almost seem to project anew a life to which Art Deco gave clarity and sporty modernity. However, Mazzotti’s figures are intrinsically Italian, and therefore the pictorial page is printed with a studied majesty of presences and rhythms, which makes it appropriate at this point to expand on the theme of the secret continuity of tradition in his art. In fact, just when it seems his only wish is to begin a new chapter in the ‘new figuration’, he steers this chapter in a solemn measuring of areas, impressive jointed structures and volumes barely modulated by compressed shadows. This, the latest feature to appear in his painting, is as yet probably no more than an important indication: it requires much further work to achieve even greater results. But then, Mazzotti is profoundly accustomed to private sacrifice, which is, moreover, intimately congenial to him. This, his latest work, has both a limpid and problematic strength, and for this reason it is not difficult to predict a real future in the many years of making art that still lie ahead of him.’


Giorgio Cortenova:

‘Mazzotti’s works take us back to a world halfway between the optical and the abstract-architectural that has characterised his approach up till now. The terms do not deceive: we are dealing with architectures reduced to a synthesis, and op art revisited to the rhythm of private feelings. I may be guessing, but it seems to me that the author glimpses the structure of a modern city through the blinds of an old house in Bologna. By nature, op art loves the contact between contrasting colours, the flamboyant embarrassment of their aggressiveness. But then a gentle beige intervenes, the green knows autumn’s moods and the red is tempted by tones of rust. Yet even when the colours sing at their loudest, their tonality pollutes the initial momentum at its source. The ‘brake’ is timely: filtering, in an intimate dimension, those evolutions that are in their own way monumental, or the faceting of an artificial light. A metaphysical sense of spaces? Perhaps. Certainly, when the decoration etches the surfaces it freezes in the suspension of a time that has stopped forever.’


Renzo Biasion:

‘Mazzotti’s painting is the painting of meditation and serenity, preserving to a precise degree the classic sense of colour for the tone, richness and quality of his compact and glowing texture [...]. Mazzotti is perfectly aware of the multiplicity of components required present in a painting to make it come alive, and he also knows that they must each have their own calculated weight, so that none takes precedence to the detriment of the others. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that he assigns an absolutely primary role to colour, hence his paintings have an appeal and a force that immediately captivates the observer. His free geometric abstraction is deeply rooted in the preparatory drawings he executes with an analytical and descriptive precision that bring to mind Piranesi’s etchings.’


Luciano Bertacchini:

‘The rooms in Bologna’s Forni Gallery offer an encounter with the clear, geometrical pictorial world of Antonio Mazzotti. Forty works of intense and coherent activity, and the gradual transition from a modulated counterposing of realistic forms to the rigorous creation of abstract structures; from the rational language of inventive interlocking constructions to recent “figure-environment” images. In Mazzotti’s work there is always a mathematical arrangement of spaces and a rhythmic succession of perfect fields of colour. Painting studied at length, rich in cultural messages, and charged with a power and quality of execution that may bring to mind the old Flemish masters.’


Arrigo Grazia:

‘An encounter between art, op art and new figuration seems to me to be the point around which this artist conducts his research. In painting that is clean and calculated in every detail, he makes use of rich and vibrant colour, passing from the clarity of the abstract to the refinement of a renewed Art Nouveau, where figures with strong outlines are filled with designs that resemble ancient, delicate fabrics, creating an effect of limpid coldness. ’


Giorgio Ruggeri:

‘He reveals varying cultural interests, yet always coupled with a formal and highly cultivated rigour [...] Op art experiences, the work of Vasarely for instance, have gained entry, but always combined with classic form and even a Renaissance flavour. Sometimes the pleasure of painting takes his hand and the eager painter goes overboard on the canvas, falling in love with details that disturb the “machine” [...] but the cut is there, and also the fabric, and in this current revival of new figurations, Mazzotti can find space and laurels.’


Marcello Venturoli:

‘If this Bolognese artist has condensed only a mere moment of his artistic journey in his prints, aiming for the maximum abstract results, on viewing these works we cannot regret any of his other phases, because here we have the method and the sentiment of all his art, a kind of definitive proof of his pictorial rigour, a wager with the finite, with the perfect, between sign and colour, a portrait of a ‘workshop’, ranging in exemplary fashion from purist abstract quality to constructivism, in accordance with the avant-garde tradition, which is the verification of his inspiration.’


Elda Fezzi:

‘[...] Mazzotti’s narrative abstraction, full of “figures” and “forms”, futuristic ideas and collections of memories of the mosaic and frescoed “abstract margins” of ancient Italian art, subtly employed to combine fable and irony, is one of the most intense manifestations of discursive eloquence, of poetic, esoteric insights to be found within and beyond the formulas indicated by the abstraction-création experience. [...] Even abstract art has become a wealth of illusionistic forms that Mazzotti skilfully helps himself to in a playful and irreverent way, while also making the most of every colour and every perspective value, the a-plat and trompe-l 'oeil, with complete freedom, yet without losing sight of an emotional depth, a sort of infinite, loving care – almost like an antiquarian designer – towards these his creatures. [...] For him, abstract forms are “altogether natural forms” that “are able to dig to the bottom of memories, the unconscious, and desire”.’


Bartolomeo De Gioia

‘Nothing is left to chance, nor could it be otherwise since Mazzotti comes from a figurative space that is based on giving rhythm in an increasing but consequential succession to signs and symbols whose final result is always a harmonious, well-placed equilibrium. For over ten years the artist has pursued his free themes without worry, while conceding nothing to chance or emotion [...]. The excellent and very successful show that has just closed at Il Triangolo Gallery in Cremona is confirmation that the artist’s chosen path, supported by Arcangeli’s encouragement, is the right one.’


Franco Solmi:

‘This exhibition is the first by a public institution to pay tribute to an isolated but not isolatable personality who cannot easily be buried under the weight of references, even though they are usefully made in order to try to analyse the elements that mark his evolution. If we keep in mind what has been said above, the dissection will be less confusing, and the separate moments of the reference can be related to the unity of the artist who received and filtered them: from Italian abstraction, from which Mazzotti freed his work through dynamism, to metaphysics, to magical ritual symbolism – among which I would be inclined to include the works that Marcello Venturoli defines as “new figuration”, and those indicated by Elda Fezzi as the fruit of the work of “a disenchanted and supreme juggler of word and image”. Personally, I’d mention the theatricality and rituality of the image, which is unable to be reduced to the level of surface but becomes the environment for possible and impossible actions irrespectively. That is, it goes well beyond the capacity to integrate itself “into the environment”, which has made Mazzotti grateful to architects and has made critics misinterpret as architecture (or derivatives of this type of discipline) or urban imitation, spaces that are gratuitous in that they are theatrical, and necessary only because they participate in that absurd and difficult daily ritual which is the practice of and desire for an outmoded aesthetic.’


Marilena Pasquali:

‘An observation common to all criticism regarding Antonio Mazzotti refers to his tendency to keep a distance from all the open fields of debate and to prefer instead the close, inner, silent relationship with a work and its evolution into image. [...] Certainly, the situation in Bologna, and not only in the last thirty to thirty-five years, has not been one to promote or comprehend the “mental” languages that belong to the great matrix of European abstract art. In the land of warm naturalism and attention to tonal and sensory nuances, a by no means easy life has guided both Korompay’s lyrical meteors and Romiti’s suspended images - both artists to whom Mazzotti has often been linked, due more to parallels of situation than similarity of approach. Even for our artist, in fact, it has been a very personal journey of about forty years, during which he has known how to build, work after work, in order to reveal his own individuality.
Mazzotti’s isolation also plays a positive role and is an intrinsic requirement of his work. He would not be able to allow himself to be enveloped in his reticulated colour, lose himself in dreams of ancient stone, or steal astonished glance at silent idols, had he not created his personal, magical space forbidden to others, or at least not recommended, where the only airs that blow are the ones the artist chooses, and where the noises of the world arrive like a rhythmic buzz. Hence solitude not out of lack of interest or a conscious rejection of the reflections and proposals of others, but as a vehicle for better “understanding” – gathering together – cultural influences that are not only very broad in origin but also of intense emotional power, which the artist likes to absorb as vital sap for his work.

[...] In the presence of Mazzotti’s works one is aware of the broad mental openness that distinguished him over the years and marked each of his experiments. The very fact of relentlessly exploring, of believing that seeking both within oneself, and outside in the world of art and culture, is the only way to create autonomous images, exemplifies his attitude to art and connects him not only to the theories of the historical avant-gardes of this century, but also to the immense theoretical patrimony that is part of modern Western culture. To man the artist, seen as the centre of every sensory experience, everything reconnects in an invigorating impression and a conscious transformation, while Galileo’s old motto “try and try again” seems eager to return to the field in a continuous investigation that reflects the artist’s wide-ranging freedom of thought and his stubborn desire to create. I believe that this anthropocentric vision of Mazzotti’s attitude to art serves as a valid hypothesis for retracing its every expression, noting the considerable depth and poetic sense that make it valuable and necessary. [...]

A number of other names come to mind that are worthy as examples of a certain mental and emotional attitude, namely Alberto Magnelli, with whom Mazzotti can be compared for exploring pure rhythms and spatial dialogues that result in an “explosion of matter”; Frantisek Kupka, for the importance given to musical experience and the concern for an absolute purity of colour; Gleizes and Manessier for their work on the decomposition of form and attempts to enrich the cubist vision through a new concreteness, and Klee, for the profound appeal Mazzotti finds in his rhythmic cadences and elementary forms transfigured in dreams. But these mentions should not crowd the discussion with erudite examples, nor link this Bolognese artist to any “inappropriate relatives” or sweeping implications, but simply indicate a field of reference useful for delineating a cultural environment and a form of research that Mazzotti constantly enriches by assembling various moods and visions he has absorbed from ancient Italian art: from the gold of cathedrals to the petrified landscapes of medieval frescoes, and from the translucent alabaster of undisturbed ancient shrines to the metal joints of Renaissance battles.’


Lino Cavallari:

‘He was one of the rare Bolognese artists with a distinct, abstract imagination, and perhaps the only one with a great potential for creating rationally structured architectural images; [...] between Piranesi and Escher he developed his original, deceptive aesthetic of being here and elsewhere, which later became his definitive signature. [...] Few, observing his unassuming nature, would have attributed to him such an acute optical-sensory creativity, in some ways associable with Soldati, and in others with Veronesi and Grignani.’


Lamberto Priori:

‘What were considered the key nodal points were investigated with great commitment: from the alternative figurative-abstract, which is perhaps a false problem, given that certain figural aspects in his mature work do not alter his line of research, and, if anything, it is perhaps the “pedal” of sentiment that plays a more suspended or surprised resonance with the common spirit shared with architects, which is very Bauhaus; from certain decorative details to musical scores, thus in consonance with Kupka, the poet of the verticals, purity and musicality, or to more closely related abstract examples (Magnelli) or the “theatricality” mentioned by Solmi [...]; from his attention to materials to the rituality of certain rhythms and presences; from the skill of the “juggler of word and image” to certain imaginative, magical or esoteric allusions about which we are always very careful, given that Mazzotti has a complexity which is always the range of energies made extremely clear at the moment of development.’


Monica Miretti:

‘Mazzotti opens a direct dialogue with space – in which echoes of Magnelli are perceptible – and where obsessively constructed forms expand and are later grouped and fitted into each other. One notices in his works an almost computerised technicality, which gives rise to the formal perfection, the absolute geometrical nature of the images. But already an initial bewilderment exists, entrusted to colour and substituted by the sense of vertigo that certain works acquire when the scaffolding of the mind seems to lose its physical weight and soars into space. It lasts an instant. Then the colour emerges in a uniform texture, without vibrations yet brilliant, capable of absolute harmonies, contrasts, even violent ones, or dazzling solutions in the thrall of certain shades of almost ravenous orange.’


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